1 Thessalonians 2

We are looking into chapter 2 of 1 Thessalonians.

[Slide-1]
Paul is on what we call his second missionary journey. He has crossed Asia Minor and is now in Eastern Europe, the modern day region where Greece is.

He has used the Roman road system to move quickly across the region and he has already visited the major of Philippi [he later writes a letter to the city in that church, Philippians].

He then spends a very short amount of time in Thessalonica, then he travels down to Athens, then to Corinth.

He stays in Corinth for over a year and a half. He is writing his letters to the Thessalonians from Corinth.

So we will pick up the letter at the beginning of chapter 2:

[Slide-2]
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain,
2 but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.


We have mentioned in our first two studies that Paul lives his life being targeted. His time in Philippi and now in Thessalonica are no different.

We are about to see that the opposition against Paul includes a few serious accusations that he addresses head on.

[Slide-3]
3 For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery,
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.
5 As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed...


It appears that since Paul has left the city some detractors are claiming that he was just a traveling saleman...out to get rich.

Every culture has charlatans and snake oil salesmen.
So did the Roman world. Many "healers" would travel from city to town selling the ability to cure ailments.

Modern medicine makes this kind of trickery less likely, but in a world where antibiotics does not exist...and having someone cut on your body normally leads to death by gangrene...

The Romans were in constant search of somebody who could help them with serious ailments.

You can still see this kind of thing in places where poor people have no money or access to good medical care. It leads to witch doctors and various religious cults that they hope will heal them.

This is in large part why crowds flocked to Jesus.

He was not selling anything.
He healed people with a touch or a spoken word.

After Paul leaves Thessalonica it seems from his comments that his detractors are attacking his character. He is defending himself.

We find here in chapter 2 an interesting defense. On the one hand Paul plainly says "we did not take advantage of you."

His proof is that he did not take money for his services. v9 - "we worked hard night and day."

Paul worked as a leathersmith which keeps him from being accused of using his itinerant status to make money.

But his second argument, found in other letters,
is not such a focus like it is in this letter...
Paul points to his gentle care of these new believers:

[Slide-4]
v7 We were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children.

And again in v11

11 As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, 12 urging and encouraging you...

There are a few other letters where Paul speaks to this issue, but there is not another passage like this in Paul's letters.

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PRAYER
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Remember how Luke describes Paul's initial results in this city:

[Slide-5]
He won a "few" Jews, a "great number of Greeks" and "more than a few leading women" in the city.

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In the Roman world it was quite common (as it is today) for women of financial means, usually from a husband who is of considerable importance, but also possibly a woman from a wealthy family:

These women were quite important. Usually they would sponsor idol temples or other community services.

Wealthy women were VERY important for traveling preachers and philosophers...and charlatans. If a traveling "prophet" could gain an audience with a wealthy woman he would be taken care of.

This makes it more important that Paul does not take monies from these wealthy women, but instead works "night and day."

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In our introduction I mentioned that this was Paul's first ministry center that was dominated by Greeks.

[Slide-6]
My study this week bears it out.
Paul mentions "the law" referring to the Laws of Moses, many times:
In Romans - 51
1 Cor - 11
Galatians - 26 times
He does not mention "the law" a single time in the letters to the Thessalonians.

Paul does not mention Jews as an audience in either Thessalonian letter. He only references Jews one time and that is to parallel the persecution against the Jewish Christians in Judea with what the Thessalonian believers were enduring at the hands of their fellow Romans.

This is a congregation dominated by Gentiles.

Now, why is this significant?

Because is saying to people of a completely different culture (Gentiles) and to people with very differently lifestyles:
- Romans with public bath houses where they basically get naked in public to bath
- idol temples where they have sex as part of their worship
- if they have a baby girl it was not unusual to throw her out into the woods to die

I could go on and on.
This is Paul encountering a very different kind of culture.

Yet he says,
v7 We were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children.

11 ...we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children,
12 urging and encouraging you...


Paul is developing the concept that as a Jew his Roman converts are his family.

When this started becoming clear to me in this text I ran some numbers, scanning some of Paul's other letters.

[Slide-7]
Brother refers to the Thessalonians as "brothers" in this short letter 13 times. Some English translations read "beloved," but in the Greek Paul is using the term of family.

13 times in this letter - every 7 verses he calls them his family.

He uses this term of family more in his first letter to the Corinthians, but it is a much longer letter.

In 1 Corinthians it happens every 20 verses.

My point is simple.
In spite of the differences in culture...differences in opinions...
differences in viewpoints...Paul wants these Romans to know
They are his family AND he loves them dearly.

We have some folks here today who came last Sunday to hear Jeff Bates.
Our norm here is after our teaching we open it up for comments and WE WANT TO HEAR from each other.

I do not want to pressure anyone, but when I open it for comments we would love for any of you who have come back to visit to share with us.

I knew that this church would welcome EVERYONE and ANYONE who would come to hear Jeff Bates...and you did.

Our goal in this church is really very simple:
We want Jesus to be welcomed here...
And we want to warmly welcome ANYONE who comes to be with Jesus.

Secondly, we are family.
We all know that most families have conflict.
Families gathering for Thanksgiving or Christmas can oftentimes have brothers and sisters getting irritated with each other...it happens.

My little family is VERY close and we just love to be together.
But every now and then we have a stupid emotional flare up...
of course, it is never my fault.

I am over-reaction Al.
Every now and then either my wife or one of my daughters will say or do something...and I will react poorly.

This happens with all of us.
It happens here in our "family."
But God calls us to the "one anothers:"

These are all right out of the biblical text:
- love one another
- be kind to one another
- serve one another
- prefer one another over yourself
- do not judge one another
- be patient with one another
- forgive one another

I think we do these things fairly well here, but obviously we are not perfect.

To the new folks,
We want you to be in our family.

Please understand, we are not perfect.
But when someone in our family needs us, we are there.

Paul makes it clear in these letters...
We are God's family.


LET'S PRAY

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COMMENTS - QUESTIONS
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Troy, AL 36079